The Morning Mix

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Remember that dominant Florida team everybody was drooling over on Monday? Yeah, they lost last night, to Arkansas, by 11.

It was ugly.

You know what wasn’t ugly? The Michigan-Ohio State game.

It was beautiful.

But enough of my thoughts.

Let’s hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – St. Bonaventure’s @ No. 14 Butler
7:00 p.m. – No. 17 Cincinnati @ Providence
7:00 p.m. – No. 18 Minnesota @ No. 12 Michigan State
7:00 p.m. – Baylor @ No. 22 Oklahoma State
7:00 p.m. – No. 24 Marquette @ South Florida
7:00 p.m. – Charlotte @ Temple
7:00 p.m. – Delaware @ Towson
7:00 p.m. – Southern Miss @ Central Florida
7:00 p.m. – Connecticut @ St. John’s
7:05 p.m. – No. 16 Creighton @ Indiana State
7:30 p.m. – No. 11 Louisville @ Rutgers
8:00 p.m. – Memphis @ SMU
9:00 p.m. – No. 5 Kansas @ TCU
9:00 p.m. – Stanford @ No. 7 Arizona
9:00 p.m. – Air force @ No. 15 New Mexico
9:00 p.m. – Iowa @ Wisconsin
10:00 p.m. – Colorado State @ Nevada
11:00 p.m. – Boise State @ San Diego State
 
 
Read of the Day:
Old Dominion announced the firing of 12-year head coach Blaine Taylor yesterday. Taylor was instrumental in the growth of the Monarchs’ program and guided them to four NCAA tournament appearances. His firing comes as the team is struggling through a 2-20 season, and drinking problems from his past may have played a part. But the Universities handling of the situation makes this story both awkward and sad. Make sure you read this article from David Teel. (Newport News Daily-Press)

Read of the Day:
So ummm, Bill Simonson of MLive.com puts Indiana on blast. No, not the Hoosiers. The entire state. Yeah, it’s pretty outlandish. But speaking of the Hoosiers, Simonson believes the referees favor Crean and the Hoosiers and that Big-Ten referees hold personal grudges on certain coaches and take it out on them at Assembly Hall. Read this, but make sure you have your popcorn ready. (MLive.com)
 
 
Top Stories:
Tim Hardaway, Jr., No. 3 Michigan outlast No. 10 Ohio State in overtime thriller: It was billed as the top game of the night and it certainly delivered. Tim Hardaway Jr. hit three big 3-pointers in the second half and helped the Wolverines knock off the Buckeyes in overtime.

If Ohio State-Michigan taught us anything, it’s that college hoops is still great: College hoops is in a down year, right? There are not great teams, correct? Umm. Did you see the Ohio State vs. Michigan game last night? That was fantastic basketball.

VIDEO: Michael Snaer hits another buzzer-beater: For the third time in the last two weeks — and the fifth time in the past two seasons — Florida State star Michael Snaer hit a buzzer-beating game-winner in ACC play.

No. 2 Florida gets whooped by Arkansas, 80-69: Florida looked unstoppable heading in to the game last night against lowly Arkansas. Turns out Arkansas can shoot the ball pretty well, and things can go downhill when you are careless with the basketball. The Gators found out the hard way.

Wichita State loses third in a row, falls to 9-point underdog Southern Illinois: It seems like eons ago when we proclaimed that Wichita State had the goods to dethrone Creighton from the top of the MVC. And just like that, the Shockers find themselves out of the top-25 and losers of three straight.

Dick Vitale, Brad Nessler, Jay Bilas to be international voices of Final Four: Dick Vitale has had a storied broadcast career, but has never been able to call a Final Four on National Championship game. Things will change in 2013.

New Orleans chosen as host for Sun Belt Tournament through 2016: The city of New Orleans, fresh off hosting the 2012 Final Four and the 2013 Super Bowl, has been chosen as the host site for the Sun Belt men’s and women’s championship through 2016, the conference announced Tuesday. Hot Springs, Ark., had been the host site since 2009.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Northern Illinois freshman Akeem Springs has left the program due to “personal and basketball reasons”. (Hustle Belt)

– Tennessee forward Kenny Hall was arrested on Tuesday on charges of driving with a suspended license. Hall was pulled over at 5:05 a.m. for going 70 mph in a 55-mph zone. (The Tennessean)

– Montana forward Kevin Henderson has been suspended one game as a result of his DUI arrest on Sunday. (The Missoulian)

– The status of NC-State guard Lorenzo Brown for the Wolfpack’s Thursday night game against Duke is still uncertain. (Fayetteville Observer)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– A phenomenal list of the top-12 most watchable teams in the country. The Belmont Bruins are once again one of the most watchable teams in the country. The only problem is that they’re rarely on television. (Deadspin)

– You can cross Florida off the list of teams that still have a chance to finish undefeated in conference play. They were the favorites, too. (Eye on College Basketball)

– The latest installment of Andy Glockner’s Bubble Watch. You know what to do with this. (Sports Illustrated)

– On Monday, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel wrote that he honestly believed that the Florida Gators could beat the Orlando Magic, a bad pro team. On Tuesday, Florida lost to Arkansas, a bad SEC team, by 11. Bianchi’s Wednesday column should be rather entertaining. Here is his Monday column. (Orlando Sentinel)

– Some interesting numbers that shed light on just how much money Brad Stevens has earned as a result of Butler’s recent success. (USA Today)

– Jason Lisk explains why you shouldn’t worry about the RPI rankings when filling out your brackets. (The Big Lead)

– Kansas senator Michael O’Donnell has created a proposal that would force Wichita State and Kansas to play each other. Kansas State also included. I kinda like this. (Wichita Eagle)

– A great story about how Butler’s Erik Fromm uses the memories of his late father, who lost his battle with cancer this past weekend, to get him this difficult time. (Indianapolis Star)

– Did the NCAA approve the attorney expenses of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro? That what it looks like. I hope it isn’t true, but this is the NCAA were talking about. So it probably is. (USA Today)

– A solid-read on Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick, who has become one of the top players in the Big East this season. The Bearcats face Providence tonight, a school that Kilpatrick nearly attended. (Friar Basketball)

– UConn’s Ryan Boatright doesn’t watch ESPN much anymore because the “Journey to the Tourney” commercial reminds him that the Huskies aren’t eligible for the postseason this year. Daggonit. (New Haven Register)

– A nice profile piece on Otto Porter, who continues to carry th Georgetown Hoyas on his broad shoulders. (Washington Post)

– If you need help reading between the lines of the Blaine Taylor firing, I suggest you read this. (Mid-Major Madness)

– The Drexel Dragons have not lived up to expectations this season, but are trying to right the ship having won four of their last six games. On Thursday they play Old Dominion in the first game since the firing of Blaine Taylor. What are the chances the Drexel Dragons get derailed by an empowered 2-20 Monarchs team? (Philahoops.com)

– UConn legend Taliek Brown is back in Storrs finishing up his undergraduate degree. Brown was the lead guard on the 2003-2004 National Championship team. He’s also famous for sinking a 40-footer in double-overtime against Pittsburgh in the 2002 Big East Championship game. (Hartford Courant)

– To storm or not to storm, that is the question. The SEC issues fines to schools that have students storm the court. Some coaches like, some players love it. Others want it gone from the game. (USA Today)

– Midseason awards are tough to pick, but in the ACC, it’s a no-brainer for Coach of the Year. (Wilmington Star-News)
 
 
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The Pac-12 is foolish for scheduling Arizona-UCLA once during the regular season

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Last month, I wrote about one of the more troubling trends in college basketball: Teams steering away from playing the games that fans are going to care about the most.

It was the result of Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing stating publicly that he was “not thinking about Maryland” after the rivalry between the DMV’s two most well-known programs went by the wayside.

Ewing isn’t the only coach that is culpable here. Kansas and Missouri don’t play. Kansas and Wichita State don’t play, either. Duke and Maryland don’t play. Ohio State doesn’t play Cincinnati, Xavier or Dayton. It goes on and on.

But the blame can no longer only be given to the coaches that schedule to protect themselves and/or their program.

The conferences deserve some criticism as well. Take, for instance, the Pac-12, who released their schedule recently after deciding that Arizona, a contender for the preseason No. 1 team in the country, should only play UCLA and USC, the only two teams that have a realistic chance of upending the Wildcats for the Pac-12 crown, once apiece.

Not only that, but the games will be played in Tucson, an incredible advantage for Sean Miller’s club as they pursue the league’s regular season title.

Look, I get it. There are 12 teams in the league and there is an 18-game schedule. Each team in the league is going to play four of their 11 league foes just once. It’s simple math. But the answer should never, ever be to schedule the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once.

The reasoning is simple: Arizona and UCLA are the two biggest brands in the league. When they play it will draw more interest than when any other two teams in the conference play, and that’s something the conference should be trying to capitalize on. It takes a lot to convince anyone on the east coast to stay up to watch a Pac-12 basketball game. I cover this sport for a living and I have a hard time making it all the way through a 10 p.m. ET tip. When a two-year old is going to be screaming at me to make breakfast at 6:30 a.m., do I really want to stay up to watch Arizona blow out Washington or UCLA to beat up on Cal?

The Pac-12 should do everything they can to ensure that Arizona and UCLA play twice every season.

That is even more true this year. Arizona might be the best team in the country and they might have the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on their roster in Deandre Ayton. UCLA is a top 15 team that just so happens to have Liangelo Ball, the worst of the three Ball brothers and potentially the last one to matriculate through the college ranks. The seemingly inevitable LaVar Ball blow-up is something we all will be watching patiently to see.

Should I mention the simmering hatred between Sean Miller and Steve Alford as they continually compete for the best prospects on the west coast?

And that’s before you factor in that USC is the second-best team in the league, and anyone that UCLA plays twice, USC will also play twice.

I’ll be sure to watch a number of Oregon games this season, and I think that Stanford, Oregon State and Colorado all have the pieces to sneak up on some people this year. I’ll be sure to check in on them a couple times as well.

But the games that I’ll have circled on my calendar, the games I’ll be excited about watching, are between Arizona, UCLA and USC.

By scheduling the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once during the regular season, the Pac-12 cost themselves a third of that inventory.

That doesn’t seems like the smartest way to run a business conference.

But hey, if conference realignment and the development of conference-only networks taught us anything, it’s that major college athletics are all about competitive balance over those advertising dollars.

Vanderbilt lands commitment from Aaron Nesmith

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Vanderbilt landed their first commitment in the Class of 2018 with four-star wing Aaron Nesmith.

Nesmith is a native of South Carolina, and the Commodores beat out South Carolina for his services. At 6-foot-6, Nesmith is the kind of defensive presence and athlete that Vandy will need to replace Jeff Roberson, who will be graduating this season.

This is a critical class for Bryce Drew, who is squarely in the mix for five-star guards Darius Garland and Romeo Langford. Nesmith isn’t on that level, but he will be a nice piece for Vandy for four years.

Svi Mykhailiuk drops 20 pounds, makes weird Kansas roster even weirder

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Kansas is a weird team this season.

They’re talented, they’re probably going to win the Big 12 again and I fully expect them to be in the national title picture come March, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re … weird.

25 percent of their scholarship players are transfers sitting out the year. That doesn’t include Sam Cunliffe, who won’t be eligible until December. So that’s unusual, as is the fact that Bill Self, a coach that had steadfastly remained dedicated to playing two big men together despite the gradual shift to small-ball, has three big men on his roster in total.

One of those three is Mitch Lightfoot, which means that there are just two big men on the roster that a potential Final Four team should feel comfortable having as a major part of their rotation. That would be sophomore Udoka Azubuike and freshman Billy Preston.

That makes it seem pretty clear that the Jayhawks will be going with another small-ball look, just as they did last season, right? But they don’t really have a piece to replace Josh Jackson, who was a perfect fit as a college four in a small-ball lineup. He was a natural wing that was athletic enough to block shots and tough enough to battle bigs on the glass.

So who plays that role this season?

Some thought it could be Svi Mykhailiuk, the 20-year old Ukranian senior, but he’s never really been that guy. Oh, and he just so happened to lose 20 pounds this offseason.

“I’m trying to stay light-weight this year, so it’s going to help me a lot,” Mykhailiuk told the Kansas City Star. “I feel like I’m faster with the light weight. I’m more athletic. It just helps me overall in the game.”

Which means … what, exactly?

Losing 20 pounds isn’t exactly going to help a player that has some question marks about his toughness and physicality battle with college fours in the paint. Does it mean he’ll be playing more on the wing? If so, who plays at the four? Will LaGerald Vick — all six feet, five inches and 175 pounds — be playing in the Josh Jackson role?

Or is Self going to use Preston as his new Perry Ellis, hoping that this five-star freshman becomes what his last five-star four-man — Carlton Bragg — never could?

My guess is that it will likely end up being all of the above, depending on matchups.

But it doesn’t make the Jayhawks’ weird roster any clearer.

Four-star forward commits to Wake Forest

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Danny Manning added another four-star recruit to his 2018 recruiting class.

Isaiah Mucius, a 6-foot-7 forward, committed to Wake Forest on Monday evening, giving the Demon Deacons another top-rated prospect alongside top-25 prospect Jaylen Hoard in 2018.

“I’d like to thank my family and my friends for having my back throughout all the tough times and good times,” Mucius said in a social media post. “I’d like to thank all the college coaches that recruited me through this process and believed in me and my talents.

“I’ll be attending Wake Forest University.”

Mucius, a consensus top-100 recruit, visited Wake Forest, which he visited this past weekend, over Xavier, which he visited earlier this month. The Brewster Academy product also had offers from the likes of Connecticut, Minnesota and LSU, among others.

Manning’s 2018 class now includes Mucius, three-star guard Sharone White and Hoard, a 6-foot-8 four-star forward who committed to the Demon Deacons last month.

“I am trying to win an NCAA Championship,” Mucius told Scout.com, “and I think having Jaylen (Hoard) on the wing with me, and we are trying to help get a point guard, and I think we can win a championship.”

Rhode Island staffer arrested at team facility

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A Rhode Island staffer has been placed on administrative after an arrest last week stemming from an incident at the team’s facility, according to reports.

Tyron Boswell, who joined Rhode Island last season as the director of operations, was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors, following a verbal altercation with police, according to WPRI-TV in Providence.

From the police report, according to WPRI:

“Officers working a concert detail at the Ryan Center Thursday night responded to a reported fight in a men’s bathroom involving members of the basketball team. While trying to break up the disturbance, officers said Boswell started yelling and swearing at them. The officers told Boswell to leave, but said he kept yelling as he walked out of the bathroom.

Officers said Boswell’s outbursts agitated the crowd that had gathered outside the bathroom. Seeing that he was not going to leave peacefully, officers said they decided to place Boswell under arrest. However, police said Boswell kept yelling and struggled with officers as they put him in handcuffs and led him out of the building.”

Boswell was placed on administrative leave by the university.

“The University cannot comment further on the circumstances of the arrest, other individuals named in the arrest report or the details included in the arrest report until the investigation of the situation is complete,” a spokesperson for Rhode Island said in a statement. “The University is cooperating with the South Kingstown Police Department for the investigation.”

Boswell joined Rhode Island last year after previously being the director of operations for the grassroots program Expressions Elite. He reportedly was promoted to assistant coach at Rhode Island this year, according to Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports. He remains listed as the director of operations on Rhode Island’s roster.